'Bond' for Marineland bid

By Court Reporter

Marineland supporters have to pay $12,000 to a court as security against costs in their legal stoush with Napier City Council.

Friends of Marineland are trying to force the council to reconsider decisions which closed the iconic tourism attraction eight months ago.

The advance was set by Justice Raynor Asher in the High Court yesterday, giving Friends of Marineland Society three months to make the payment if it wishes to continue pushing for a judicial review of the council's decisions.

It represents almost a third of a legal bill estimated by council lawyer Matthew Lawson at up to $35,000, and Justice Asher said if the volunteer organisation raised $50 from each of its "200 families" membership, it would indicate its commitment to the bid.

Also at yesterday's hearing, Justice Asher dismissed a council application to strike out the proceedings, and another for the society to be ruled in contempt for failing to comply with court orders. But he said the hearing had come about largely because the society hadn't met deadlines set in April for filing documents, and awarded a further $1500 in costs to the council.

The judge said that while the default was "considerable", he believed the delays reflected the "slender resources" of the society and the difficulties of pursuing such serious proceedings rather than being wilful abuse of the court process.

He said it was not possible to establish a clear view on the strength of the society's case, with a statement of claim "lacking in particularity", but he had to take into account its position in representing a body of members of the public. But he also said the society did not contest the "proposition" that it would be unable to meet an "adverse" award of costs if it did not succeed with its application.

Asking for a decision on costs of yesterday's hearing to be reserved pending "final determination" of the proceedings, society counsel Phillip Ross said the applications for striking out and contempt were "fairly extreme" responses from the council.

No comment was available yesterday from Friends of Marineland Society chairman Cliff Church, a lawyer, who was unable to attend yesterday's hearing.

But it was expected the society would seek to raise the money and go ahead with the application, with the council concerned about delays in implementing its decisions, completing the closure and redeveloping the site.

The hearing could be delayed until next year, with Justice Asher ruling that should the society make the payment, it would have four weeks from payment date to file further affidavits, after which the council would have five weeks to respond.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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